Saturday 14 December 2019

Rodgers: We thought we could play like 'Roy of the Rovers'

Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers on the touchline before kick-off
Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers on the touchline before kick-off

Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers accused his side of adopting a 'Roy of the Rovers' approach to their game at Crystal Palace and believes hopes of the Premier League title have been extinguished.

The Reds looked to have dealt with the pressure of title rivals Manchester City winning on Sunday as they eased into a 3-0 lead, playing the sort of fast-paced football that has earned them so many plaudits this season, but they conceded three late goals to draw 3-3 at Selhurst Park.

Joe Allen scored his first league goal for the Reds before Daniel Sturridge and double player of the year Luis Suarez scored in two second-half minutes to put the visitors in a seemingly unassailable position.

Those three goals took Liverpool's tally to the season to 99, usually more than enough to lock out top spot and the championship.

But their defence has been asked a number of questions over the course of the campaign and it was once again left wanting as Palace fought back to seal a memorable draw and swing the title momentum firmly back towards the Etihad Stadium.


Damien Delaney scored his first goal of the season to mount the comeback before substitute Dwight Gayle struck twice as Tony Pulis' side drew level in just nine minutes.

The capitulation left both Liverpool captain Steven Gerrard and top goalscorer Suarez in tears at the full-time whistle and Rodgers admits it now looks as though their strongest title tilt in 24 years appears to be over.

"Yes, for me it is," he said. "We needed to win tonight to keep the pressure on. I think City will go on and win their two games now.

"They will be champions. But for us it's been an outstanding achievement until now. We'll keep looking to build."

The draw does move Liverpool a point clear at the top of the table but City have a game in hand and Rodgers was left rueing more poor defending.

"It is hugely disappointing," he said. "For 78 minutes we were outstanding, done everything we'd wanted to do.

"But we got carried away, thought we could have more, and lost our defensive structure. It is thinking clearly under pressure that is important.

"We thought we could play 'Roy of the Rovers' football and make the goal difference up. But tonight was about winning the game."

Crystal Palace boss Tony Pulis felt Delaney's effort gave his side an outside chance of getting something out of the game after looking like they could have been on the end of a big defeat.

"I said the game would open up in the second half, and we'd have a chance," he said. "Then they get the two and, at 3-0, you're staring down the barrel. When we got the first goal, I thought we'd have a squeak. Then everything took off, it was amazing."

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